Special Sergeant Lewis MerrittI work for Thames Valley Police as a Station Duty officer and have also been volunteering as a Special for a little over three years.
Initially, my plan was to join the regulars after a few years within the Special Constabulary. I saw it as a way of broadening my skills and life experiences, but in a way that was tailored towards the role I wanted. I think anyone would be lying if they didn’t say that driving around on blue lights, catching criminals wasn’t appealing either...
I find that being able to “switch off” is incredibly difficult. You will learn to look at situations differently to others in the community, and you will learn how to deal with incidents in the safest way. Even off duty, you may find yourself stopping at RTC’s, making sure everyone is safe, giving first aid, implementing road closures. The trick with this is to identify the best response and remember you are off duty. Sometimes, it’s best to just stand back, take note of what is happening, and be an expert witness.
I think my first two shifts were allocated to policing the night-time economy in Wantage town centre. I seem to recall speaking to lots of different members of the community those nights, and having to pull people apart and stop them fighting. My first arrest came a few weeks after, and was for possession with intent to supply. I was overjoyed that my first arrest was for possession with intent to supply, and got into the local papers.
You get immense pride at the end of each shift, knowing you have made a positive difference to people’s lives. You are in a position of trust, and where as an Officer you get increased rights and powers; with those comes increased responsibility. I also find when people say “thank you”, it goes a long way. In essence, it could be considered “just a job”, but when you invest a lot of time and energy in keeping people safe, it’s very nice to get thanks.
If I was going to give advice to anyone thinking of joining, I would say go for it! As long as you are able to dedicate 18 hours a month, then I would say give it a go.
At times, the role is challenging and incidents don’t end well, but you get immense pride in doing your best. You will join a great and dedicated team of Special Constables, and Police Officers in general, and you will make life-long friends and amazing memories.